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Bath has earned UNESCO World Heritage status for its harmonious mix of Roman archaeology and 18th century town planning. Bristol is more eclectic but with glorious architecture, too: Georgian squares and colour-washed Victorian terraces rub shoulders with the waterfront’s industrial red brick.
Each city celebrates its urban landscape with a visitor centre dedicated to the built environment: the Museum of Bath Architecture unearths the past, while the Architecture Centre in Bristol keeps an eye on the future. But it’s out on the streets that real discoveries are made.
The ultimate Georgian city
An essay in dressed limestone, Bath’s neo-classical cityscape is truly impressive. Enjoy its honey-coloured vistas from a lofty vantage point: on the National Trust’s Skyline Walk or from the top of Bath Abbey tower. Take in John Wood the Younger’s Grade I listed Royal Crescent or Robert Adam’s Pulteney Bridge – one of only four bridges in the world with shops on both sides of its span. Further afield, seek out the romantic Palladian Bridge at Prior Park’s landscape gardens, or the Kennet and Avon Canal’s masterpiece of design and engineering, the Dundas Aqueduct.
Layers of History
The character of Bristol was considerably altered by the Blitz and the post-war development that followed, and a stroll around the city reveals excellent examples of buildings from every period of its history. Note, for example, the medieval splendour of St Mary Redcliffe, or the Georgian crescents and garden squares of Clifton. And who’s heard of Bristol Byzantine? A polychrome of pennant stone and decorative brick, seen in buildings as diverse as the Colston Hall and the harbour’s Victorian warehouses, the style is unique to the city.